Monday, February 24, 2014

Syrian dancers

Years ago my kids went on a long trip which also brought them to Syria. Their means of transport were two recumbent bicycles. Then, having a knee problem, my daughter stayed on in Aleppo on her own, totally safe and when the time had come, she went by buss with her stuff to Damascus and they all were reunited again. Once in Damascus they interviewed a few people. People, with whom they stayed in touch. The young people interviewed were hip hop dancers, moon walkers, dance instructors and such, also human rights advocates. Nidal made it to Belgium, a great dancer. Jihad is a master chocolate maker trained in Dubai, now learning to make Belgian chocolate. Naser who ran the dancing school, had reached his sister in Austria and worrying about their mother returned to Damascus to go and get his mother. A young man who never touched a gun in this conflict, has family values and was cherished by those who knew him. The sad story is that he got killed in Damascus. We don't know what happened to his mother... This war isn't far away. If you visited the country, seen the antique places, talked to people, made friends then it feels as if that war is on our doorsteps... The horror, the horror of war we can't imagine. Feel it in the loss of this young man.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My mother - Jeanine Ameloot

The night from Wednesday to Thursday, after seven years of dementia, my mother softly slipped away shortly after midnight... Thursday turned out to be a long day. Family council with the undertaker, practical decisions. My daughter and her husband were a great help. Then the pastor, a good man, came on Friday since my parents are/were catholic in order to organize the service which will be held next Wednesday. Tuesday she will be cremated.
The pastor had an interesting exercise: two pages with words in a long list. The family then had to say whether that word was a fair description of my mother. I know all family members hold a different position within the family and have different experiences and thus different views of her as husband, daughter, granddaughter and the granddaughter's partner. With each word that sounded nice her husband said yes, yes she was kind, yes she was simple, yes she helped people ...  My daughter having had the best of my mother was nuanced because she also knew, saw that it was different for me. This psychological exercise was very hard, trying to to find a balance between fair and honest. I have been touched by the kindness of my daughter and her husband and my friends, writing me, coming to the service next Wednesday, being there as support, sharing their experiences. I feel gratitude for this.
Photo by Bram Goots